3 Challenges to Improving Early Childhood Education 3 Challenges to Improving Early Childhood Education

Undoubtedly, the new government will have to analyze the urgent needs that Colombia has in primary education, taking into account the responsibility that institutions, teachers and the educational community have to develop the maximum potential of boys and girls.

Data from Entrepreneurs for Education’s latest publication titled Rethink education; ways to transform the educational realityreveal that of the country’s 4.7 million early childhood children, only 1.3 million benefit from comprehensive care services (29%).

Holistic care and quality primary education were promoted by entities such as the United Way Colombia Foundation, which identified and prioritized three main challenges to transform early childhood education amid the setbacks left by the COVID -19 pandemic.

1. Education and training of early childhood teachers

Innovative teachers who think outside the box and whose disruptive thinking enables them to imagine educational problems and create creative solutions are a must in early childhood education.

Appropriate training should be provided for the various actors who work in early childhood, from educational agents to administrative staff and interdisciplinary team, as well as working directly with families and community agents. All this with the aim of achieving a systemic impact that promotes the comprehensive and quality development of boys and girls.

Indeed, United Way Colombia works on training educational agents in leadership, creativity, innovation, managing emotions and social conflicts, seeking to strengthen their do, know and be. Likewise, tools are provided so that they have the ability to propose projects (solutions) to the various challenges they face on a daily basis.

2. From early childhood centers to primary schools: a harmonious transition

Boys and girls in Columbia are educated in the context of dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and academic demands that change dramatically as they transition from early childhood services to elementary school.

Despite the efforts made in the country, our data shows that one of the highest dropout and repetition rates is observed at this educational level:

The Educational Management Observatory of Education Entrepreneurs found that in 2021, the highest dropout rate was at the transitional education level (moving from kindergarten to primary education), closely followed by secondary education.

Given this scenario, the United Way Colombia Foundation concludes that, as is evident, there are challenges to overcome, but also opportunities for improvement.

For this reason, United Way Colombia insists that the new government direct its efforts to the need to create and maintain spaces for dialogue and coordination between the various entities that are jointly responsible for comprehensive care and early education, such as, above all, the Colombian Institute for the Family Welfare – ICBF– and the Ministry of National Education –MEN–, in order to coordinate policies, plans, programs and actions related to this population.

In this way, child development centers -CDI- or kindergartens will connect with schools and both participants will feed each other from the educational dynamics to develop articulated strategies that allow a harmonious transition between two stages of education. for boys and girls. With this practice, we have achieved very positive results in the regions where we have applied this methodology.

3. Social-emotional skills for the educational community

The Entrepreneurs for Education publication also states that reports of child abuse have increased by 47% during the pandemic. For 2020, a total of 15,780 cases of violence against children and adolescents were reported in the sub-system for monitoring domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse -SIVIM-.

With attendance returning, it is time for early childhood centers and schools to once again be places of wellbeing and protection. To this end, United Way Colombia is firmly committed to developing and strengthening the socio-emotional skills of teachers and children, transforming the classroom into a space that breaks cycles of violence.

The educational community must be part of a transformative movement that must begin with education based on the development of social-emotional skills, with a focus on creativity and leadership, which allows boys and girls to learn to manage their impulses, resolve conflicts and be resilient in the face of adversity, managing to sustain a project throughout its life.

Thus, by preparing our children, teachers, families and carers within this approach, we will be able as a society to combat issues such as domestic violence, bullying and abuse to positively impact the whole formative nucleus, which is co-responsible for the development of the child.

Cristina Gutierrez de Pinerez
Executive Director of United Way Colombia

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